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Int J Legal Med. 1997;110(1):1-4.

Antioxidant-related enzymes in myocardial zones and human pericardial fluid in relation to the cause of death.

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Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Granada, Spain.


The aim of this work was to shed light on hypoxic and ischemic processes in the heart that may lead to irreversible or lethal myocardial injury. We determined malondialdehyde (MDA) and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activities in human cardiac tissues from 45 medico-legal autopsies of persons who died from different causes. Samples were taken from three different areas of myocardium: the anterior and posterior walls of the left ventricle, and the interventricular septum. We used light microscopy to examine the heart sections (hematoxylin-eosin and Masson's trichromic stains), and studied the K+(Na+ ratio and pericardial fluid. A decrease in GSH-Px activity was found in cases with severe atherosclerosis of the coronary artery in comparison with the group with slight or moderate atherosclerosis. Postmortem activities of GSH-Px and SOD were significantly different in the three myocardial zones studied. An increase in GSH-Px activity in the interventricular septum was noted in cases of cardiac deaths. Antioxidant-related enzymes such as GSH-Px and SOD can therefore be regarded as new biochemical markers indicative of myocardial hypoxia. The possible applications to the postmortem diagnosis of the cause of death are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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